As Gary and I prepare to head to Palm Springs tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary, I am reminded of our celebration last year. It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend where we got in touch with nature, turned off our electronics, and had some good old-fashioned romance. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the romance went wrong.
Last year we decided to stay close to home and rented a cabin in Descanso for the weekend. You see, Gary likes camping and I like having an indoor toilet. It seemed like a good compromise. Turns out, the place was actually a house, albeit an old one with a noticeable lack of weather-stripping. The pictures gave it a very Hansel and Gretel-like charm.
We pulled up Friday night after work ready to relax and jump in the hot tub. Hot tubs are a major selling point for us wherever we go. Our motto is “have champagne, will travel … to hot tubs,” or something like that! After we got settled in we went outside to fire it up. We quickly discovered the back patio light didn’t work and we had to stumble around in unfamiliar territory in the pitch dark. Not to be dismayed, we grabbed a flashlight and some candles and marched back outside. Gary pulled back the cover and turned on the jacuzzi light and then we saw them … hundreds of the biggest, blackest, scariest ants I have ever seen floating in the water and crawling all around the sides! Seriously, I grew up in the boonies and I’ve never seen ants this big. These things looked like they would have no trouble carrying an unsuspecting infant back to their queen. And the worst part was they were still ALIVE! They were just taking a dip in the pool, looking up at us like “um, excuse me, we have the hot tub reserved tonight. Now put the cover back on like a good little human and just walk away!” Trying to stay positive, we said “it’s no big deal, we’ll fish them out in the daylight and get in tomorrow night.”
Despite the rough start, the rest of the night went perfectly. We drank copious amounts of champagne, talked about our wedding plans, played a perfect game of Scrabble, and took turns picking out random CD’s from the cabin’s music library (Lionel Richie?! Yes please!). With all the fun we were having we were even able to overlook the constant flow of creepy crawly bugs entering the cabin from every angle. Gary was monitoring the whereabouts of a few spiders on the ceiling, but eventually we got so drunk we told ourselves it was totally fine if they landed on our heads while we were sleeping.
We woke up the next day hung over but determined to enjoy the fuck out of that hot tub. We poured ourselves some mimosas and got to work fishing the ants out of the water. Gary sprinkled a ring of Comet on the ground around the hot tub and said the ants wouldn’t cross the line because it would “burn their legs off” or something. That sounded a little harsh to me, but on second thought, those assholes deserved it. We let the Ring of Fire go to work and went inside until it cooled off around dusk.
The moment of truth had arrived. It was Operation Hot Tub v. 2.0. Upon close inspection, we were pleasantly surprised to find no ants! Hallelujah! We grabbed our champagne and our candles and jumped in. It took us all of about 30 seconds to realize there was enough chlorine in there to sanitize an Olympic-sized pool. The air coming into our lungs felt like fire. I tilted my head towards the sky and searched for non-contaminated air, but it was nowhere to be found. My skin itched all over and I could literally feel the yeast rushing to my vagina. After a few minutes of “relaxing” I was dizzy, nauseous and coughing so hard I thought I might pass out. As much as we hated to admit it, our hot tub dreams were dead.
Solemnly, we went inside to cook dinner. After all of this disappointment we were famished! One of the cabin’s fun little quirks was an “antique” style stove that came with a set of operating instructions. It involved turning on the gas for a few minutes, finding the opening for the pilot light, and … well let’s face it, we were too hung over to read it cover to cover. Did I mention I grew up in the boonies? I think I can handle a simple task like lighting a gas stove! We turned on the gas, opened the oven door, and waved the lighter around searching for the pilot light. Nothing happened. We referred back to the manual. “Okay, we did steps 1-5, what’s next? Did we forget to put in the crystals?! ”
A few minutes had gone by and we were slowly coming to terms with the fact that the stove had won. The nearest store was 20 minutes away and both of us had started drinking heavily after the hot tub debacle. Gary waved the lighter along the floor of the oven one more time and BOOM! A backdraft of epic proportions shot through the entire kitchen from floor to ceiling! Now that I can put it in a Game of Thrones context, it was like The Mother of Dragons shouted “DRACARYS” up in there! I saw my life flash before my eyes. Thank God nothing caught on fire (including my eyebrows) and we were enjoying our frozen pizza in a mere 20 minutes. The attorney in me, however, can’t help but think of the liability issues this “antique” stove presents. That thing needs to be put out to pasture and replaced with a Kenmore stat. Either that or it needs its own insurance rider.
After dinner and more wine we were completely exhausted, worn out from all the attempted romance. We put a moratorium on the “no technology” rule (we were only hurting ourselves) and took the laptop out so we could watch an Office marathon in bed. Upon entering the bedroom, we noticed a few spiders on the floor. Being the boonie-raised chick that I am, I had anticipated this and was packing a can of Raid. No problem, I sprayed those fuckers and we went about our business.
Oh, I forgot to mention something earlier: GARY IS TERRIFIED OF SPIDERS! This has always been hilarious to me because Gary is a big strong man (with a bad-ass beard) and he is afraid of something 1/1,000th of his size. It’s not so hilarious when I am the one tasked with killing every single spider that crosses our path, but he cooks for me so I guess I can’t complain.
Now it’s about midnight and we’re all warm and snugly underneath the covers, cracking up at Dwight Schrute’s crazy antics. All of a sudden, I caught a glimpse of a spider in my peripheral vision sprinting across the comforter on top of my chest. This was no harmless, slow, fragile spider, like a daddy long-legs. No, this was one of those thick, hairy, malicious spiders that can hear your thoughts and fly.
At exactly the same time, a spider dropped down all Mission Impossible style onto Gary’s chest. It was like some sort of spider ambush that was planned weeks in advance with blueprints and tactical planning boards. Gary and I screamed in unison and flung the covers off as we jumped out of bed and scrambled for the light. I ran to get the Raid but by the time I got back over to the bed one of the spiders had already disappeared to wherever it is evil spiders go when they know you’re trying to kill them. Now that the light was on, we noticed several more spiders making their way up the comforter towards what would have been mouth territory. At this point we realized the comforter was basically made of spiders.
I’m not gonna lie, I was totally creeped out but didn’t want to go all “girl” on Gary and force us to do something drastic and irrational like pack up all of our shit and get the fuck out of dodge at 1:00 a.m. But then Gary looked at me and said “there’s no way I’m sleeping here now! We’re getting the hell out of here!” We quickly discovered there’s nothing like the fear of getting attacked by spiders in your sleep to snap you out of your sleep-deprived hangover. After about 45 grueling minutes of packing (about 20 minutes in we realized we severely over-packed for a two day stay), we were ready to start loading things into the car.
Sweaty and irritated, I looked at Gary and said “ok, give me the keys.”
G: “I don’t have the keys, why would I have your keys?”
W: “Because you were the last one to use them after you unpacked the car. And they’re not in my purse.”
G: “Well I don’t have them, I’m positive.”
W: “How many times have you said that before and we tear everything apart only to realize that you DID have them, and you put them down in the most random spot imaginable and then completely forgot about it?!”
G: “Yeah ok, but I didn’t do that this time. I remember giving them back to you.”
The first place I looked was my purse and they were not there. I always keep them in the same spot: the side zipper pocket. If they weren’t there, I didn’t have them. I was positive. I started unpacking everything we just spent almost an hour packing, searching though pants pockets, every compartment of Gary’s backpack, toiletry and makeup bags, I even took the food out of the cooler and looked inside the Triscuit box. The keys were nowhere to be found. The only other explanation was that they were locked inside the car. We headed outside and peered in the window with a flashlight. Nope, not there either! We started looking on the ground outside in the dark, rifling through the rocks and shrubbery like a meth-head looking for the rock he knows he dropped. I couldn’t believe this was happening. WE HAD TO GET OUT OF THERE!
For some reason I decided to look in my purse one more time. I picked up my purse and dumped out the contents on the kitchen table just so Gary could see for himself that I was not the culprit. Some Chapstick and Kleenex fell out and then there was a metal clanging sound and my keys poured out of that specially designated side zipper pocket. Gary gave me a look that said “I can’t believe a spider almost laid eggs in my mouth while I slept because you couldn’t find your own damn keys inside your own damn purse!”
We loaded up the car, backed out of the dirt driveway and never looked back. It was 2:00 a.m. now. Trying to get back on Gary’s good side in the car I said “well, at least there’s no traffic!” We arrived home around 3:30 a.m., delirious but with a new-found appreciation for our central air conditioning, microwave, weather-stripping, and most importantly, our comfortable spider-free bed (we checked). We were so relieved to be safely nestled in our high-density city apartment surrounded by pavement and easy to breathe smog that we slept like babies.